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Zimbabwean Workers Overwhelmed By 2 Million Percent Hyperinflation

The announcement this week by the governor of Zimbabwe's central bank that hyperinflation had topped 2 million percent came as no surprise to consumers in the country who have been chasing prices for years and whose lives have been devastated by inflation's effects.

Shortages of staple maize meal, meat, sugar, cooking oil, fuel and even cash have become a way of life amidst continuing economic collapse. Most observers doubted a new state program promising key commodities at affordable prices would deliver as promised or last very long.

The average Zimbabwean worker makes about Z$200 billion a month, but commuter fares run Z$50 billion one-way, and a loaf of bread if it can be found costs Z$150 billion.

To measure the impact of hyperinflation, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to economist Prosper Chitambara, formerly of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Harare and now with Birmingham University in England, and Japhet Moyo, deputy secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

Moyo said most Zimbabweans are no longer bothering to go to work because salaries do not meet even basic living expenses. Chitambara said many households have adjusted by eating just one meal a day, among other adaptation mechanisms.

Some Zimbabweans facing an ever-weakening currency and hyperinflation say tough times are pushing them into criminal activities, as Studio 7 correspondent Taurai Shava reported from Gweru, capital of Midlands province.

Shamva resident and Studio 7 listener Munyaradzi told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye that budgeting is now a thing of the past as living costs far exceed incomes.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...